Our Commitment to You

We know there are no guarantees that the 2020-2021 school year will proceed without interruption, despite our new health protocols and increased safety measures. We are committed to keeping our lines of communication open and to clearly communicate our plans. We know there are different rules for temporary closures depending on the specific situation and we will make the best decisions, with guidance from a team of doctors and health advisors, to ensure our community continues to thrive.

In case of a school closure, we will pivot to our robust “Virtual VBSDS” online program until it is deemed safe to return to our learning communities on campus.


Ultimately, every one of us has a role to play in making our plan a success. We must all do our part this school year to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, and limiting our community’s exposure. 

Thank you to all of the professionals and lay leaders who have supported us during this challenging time. We are more grateful than ever for our caring, warm and thoughtful community. 

Email Updates from our Day School

List of 13 items.

  • 11/17/2020 - A Commitment to Community Wellbeing

    Dear VBSDS Families,

    As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is prudent for us to reflect gratitude and offer thanks to our remarkable teachers and staff, to the community that holds us together, and to our children, who despite the restraints of this crisis, exhibit radiance, hope, and joy.

    As we read the headlines about COVID-19 spreading so intensely and quickly across our state and country, it is time for us to come together as a community and remember the Jewish value of shmirat ha’briyut, putting the health of the community above all else. Now is NOT the time for us to let our guards down. Together, we must be mindful of our behavior, of one another, and of our entire community.  This pandemic has taught us that each day and each choice affects not only our own families, but the collective.

    With an increase in LA County cases and the transition to on campus learning for K-2nd grade students, positive cases are inevitable. In addition, the weather is cooler, which means we are moving more activities indoors. We are also entering cold and flu season. There is no reason to believe that our community will be immune to the trends that our city, state and nation are experiencing.

    In VBS Day School’s commitment to transparency, emet, as these trends continue, you will hear from us frequently. With over 110 VBS ECC students and 80 Day School students on campus, and hundreds of employees between the Temple and schools, we have a lot at stake! We MUST listen to all LA County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) recommendations and guidelines. These guidelines are only effective if we model them together, united in mission and purpose. 

    While nearly nine months of restrictions have led to fatigue and lenience in some households, it is time for us to make a pledge to one another to be vigilant. The LA County Public Health Director recently shared, “As a community and as individuals, we’re going to need to be laser-focused on reducing transmission; to say many lives are at stake is not an exaggeration.” Every family assesses risk differently, and every family makes different choices. As we discussed in our brit, our community commitment to one another, it is imperative that every family fully partner with our school in its mission of shmirat ha’briyut. This is what a commitment to community wellbeing looks like in action:

    • As per LACDPH small gathering guidelines, no more than three families should be together at a time. Any such gatherings should be outside, masked and physically distanced. As the weather gets colder, please do not be tempted to move these gatherings indoors. 
    • Families should NOT host in person parties (even small ones) or get together for playdates. Gatherings like these are the quickest ways to spread the virus.

    • When you leave your home, masks should be worn at all times.

    • Please be mindful of VBS’ travel policy when it comes to travel by plane and/or train. Click HERE to review the full document.

    • We recommend that you NOT carpool to school with those outside of your household. If you absolutely must, please ensure that everyone in the car is masked and that windows are down or outside air is pumped in via the A/C system. In addition, children of separate households should not sit in the same row.

    As case numbers increase, it is possible that an LA County “Safer at Home” order may be issued once again. The only way to help avoid this is for us to take all of our actions very seriously.

    Baseline COVID-19 tests will be required for on campus learners following winter break. For your convenience, VBSDS will offer an on site testing day. For a few days immediately following winter break, all students will learn virtually until the test results are received by our school. We believe that this process is the best way to reduce risk for our families, employees, and students. More information and specifics will be shared soon. It is imperative to understand that testing does NOT prevent people from transmitting and acquiring COVID-19. It is not a substitute for distancing from people outside of your household, wearing face coverings, hand washing and avoiding crowds. A negative COVID-19 test does not grant permission to disregard safety protocols. 

    With Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fast-approaching, we hope that you will be extremely mindful of this very serious commitment to community health. Together, we truly do have the power to slow the spread. If you have any questions about these community expectations, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at hos@vbsds.org.

    United as one VBSDS community, I know that we can serve as models for others and practice behavior that makes us all proud.

    With Appreciation,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 11/13/2020 - 3rd-6th On Campus Survey

    Dear VBSDS Families,
     
    This has been an exciting week for our school! As of Monday, November 9, our kindergarten, first grade, and second grade students all have the option to learn either on campus or remotely. On Monday we welcomed over 40 first and second grade students, each of whom were excited and energized to connect with friends and teachers in person, on campus. Yesterday we were visited by a representative from the LA County Board of Health who reassured us that we are taking all of the necessary precautions and are far exceeding both recommendations and expectations for an on campus learning experience. 

    Our VBSDS team truly believes it is of utmost importance for our students and their families to have the most options possible with regard to learning format. Our administrative team is working diligently to determine the most optimal strategy to bring our 3rd-6th graders back to campus under LA County’s 25% specialized services guidelines, ensuring we are aligned with all COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The model will likely be a full day of on campus learning for 3rd-6th graders at least one day a week. It is our hope to launch this program in December, pending case rates and County protocols at the time. More information will be shared soon.

    Led by our Director of Academic Technology, Nathaniel Hanna, our faculty and staff continue to fine tune a hybrid learning model, providing families with the choice to either continue learning virtually or on campus.

    Our on campus kindergarten, first, and second grade families have all been familiarized with the protocols and code of conduct for an on campus student experience (alongside the VBS ECC). As we get closer to having additional grades on campus, rest assured that we will spend significant time orienting the entire community to the important adjustments that will be made to school life. This will include a virtual meeting to go over all of the specifics. In the interim, especially with the holiday season approaching and as we see case numbers across LA County rising, we want to continue to emphasize the part we all play in keeping our community healthy and safe. Please avoid gatherings with people outside of your household, wash hands frequently, physically distance, and wear face coverings when you leave your home. We also encourage all families to get flu vaccines and monitor symptoms closely. If we want the option to keep our campus open and add additional grades, we all need to do our part!

    Thank you for your partnership and understanding as we navigate next steps of this process. As our school year theme reflects, together we have SO much to CELEBRATE!

     
    Warmly,
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 10/30/2020 - Welcoming First & Second Grade To Campus

    Dear VBSDS Families,

    We are extremely excited to share that we will offer the option for first and second graders to learn on campus beginning Monday, November 9, 2020. Los Angeles County is currently allowing elementary schools to bring up to 25% of full student enrollment on to campus to support high need students. At VBS Day School, we are defining “high need” students as our youngest learners. Detailed information and next steps will be shared with first and second grade families in the next 48 hours. Kindergarten will continue to operate on campus under VBS’ Early Childhood Center license.

    The first and second grade on campus school day will be 8:30am-3:00pm. Morning drop-off will take place between 8:15am and 8:30am and pick-up will be at 3:00pm. Adding first and second grade kehillot on campus will mean a slight adjustment to after school sports and art club schedules. We will share these updates very soon. In the interim, K-2 families, please save the date for a Q&A session with our administrative team on Monday, November 2 at 7:00pm. We are inviting kindergarten families to the Q&A to understand what having additional students on campus will look like. A Zoom link and further information will be sent to all K-2 families soon. 

    A return to campus during this time means that the on campus experience will look and feel different than in years past. Participation in the Q&A session will best inform first and second grade families on how to talk to and prepare child(ren) for the transition to on campus learning. We invite our community to come together and explore the ways we will continue to minimize risk for our teachers, students and families. We will also discuss the shared responsibility we each have in keeping one another healthy and safe. 

    Virtual VBSDS will remain in place for those with students learning from home. We realize that this school year will be filled with starts and stops. Rest assured that Virtual VBSDS is steadfast and its programming will continue to be meaningful and robust. While the Q&A will mostly revolve around logistics of the on campus start, there will also be information for families who plan to continue to learn virtually.

    We request that all students submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test prior to a return to campus. VBSDS will offer an on campus testing opportunity for first and second grade students on Monday, November 2 from 1:00-3:30pm. If you choose to test on campus, you must bring your insurance card (or a copy) and THIS form should be fully complete upon arrival. Families must also complete the Magnus health screening app before entering campus. More information about the app will be shared with first and second grade families in an upcoming communication. If you choose not to test on campus, you may do so on your own time. Tests are available through LA County HERE and should be administered this Monday-Thursday. Results are due to VBSDSHealthOffice@vbsds.org by Friday, November 6 at 11:00am.

    The VBSDS team is thrilled to offer first and second grade families the opportunity for a return to campus and we look forward to a smooth transition.
     
    Shabbat Shalom,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School

    Nancy Herbst
    Director of General Studies

    Tamar Raff
    Director of Judaic Studies
  • 10/15/2020 - VBS COVID-19 Travel Policy

    Dear VBSDS Community,

    We hope that your week is going well.

    As we move into the fall/winter months, a time when we often travel to connect with family and gather together, we recognize that some people, whether for personal or professional reasons, will make the decision to travel by air, train or cruise. Understanding this reality, the VBS community has determined the need to implement a COVID-19 Travel Policy.

    VBS is committed to the ongoing practice of reviewing COVID-19 health and safety protocols and making adjustments as needed. The VBS Pandemic Response Team designed this policy, in partnership with legal and medical consultants and senior staff, and it applies to our synagogue, Day School, Early Childhood Center, all after school on campus programs and any VBS program that brings adults OR children onto VBS’ campus.

    The process of determining a “right fit” policy has required us to strike a delicate balance between extreme caution and personal freedom. Above all, our community agreed that respectful and unified communication is key to our community’s physical and emotional wellbeing. With this in mind, VBS’ community-wide policy regarding travel is linked HEREPlease take some time to review the policy and do not hesitate to reach out to either of us with questions. 

    As a Day School community, we plan to baseline test all on campus learners for COVID-19 prior to their return to campus following winter break. More information on this process will be shared soon. We recognize the many questions that this policy raises for our families, especially as we wait to hear about a K-2 on campus learning option through the LA County waiver process. More information will also follow regarding the VBSDS Code of Conduct, which will serve as a covenant, or “brit,” between us and our community.

    It is important to remember that we can all continue to do our part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses. Please be diligent about wearing face masks, washing hands and physical distancing. Together, we can and will create the safest learning environment possible for our students and families. 


    With Appreciation,
    Matthew Weintraub, VBS Executive Director
  • 10/09/2020 - Waiver Application

    Dear VBSDS Community,
     
    We hope that you enjoyed the week and the joy of welcoming Sukkot!
     
    Last Thursday we shared an update regarding the LA County elementary school campus reopening process. Monday afternoon, the LA County Department of Public Health waiver application for TK-2 was posted online and available for public and private schools to complete and submit. Detailed information on the waiver process can be found HERE. The full application requests information about our school, all COVID-19 protocols (including a containment and pandemic response plan), and letters of support from key community stakeholders, including our board, faculty/staff, and the Parent Organization.

    This afternoon we submitted our waiver application to the County in order to best serve our youngest learners. The timeline for reopening with the waiver remains unclear. We are proud and confident that our application will be highly considered because we successfully operated an on campus summer camp for all elementary ages, and in conjunction with VBS’ ECC, we currently have four kindergarten kehillot (pods) open on campus, as well as a fifth kehillah comprised of VBS/VBSDS children of faculty/staff who need to work on site.
     
    Opening first and second grade classes on campus under the VBSDS administration will mean an addition of only four (maximum) more kehillot to the five that are already operating on site.  This is a reminder that just because we submit a waiver application does not necessarily mean that VBSDS will be granted the opportunity for on campus learning for first and second graders.

    At present, here is what we do know:
    • The issuance of waivers will be prioritized for schools with high percentages of low income students who qualify for government subsidized meals (VBSDS has students in this category, however, the majority of our families are not.).

    • To start, no more than 30 applications per week will be approved. Unclaimed waivers for any given week will be redistributed to other schools that have applied. The 30 schools per week will be equally distributed between the five supervisorial districts.

    • The County metrics (statistics and data on COVID-19) continue to change daily, and are tied to the reopening process and timeline. This means that we all need to continue to reduce potential spread of the virus. 

    • The County board will review the waiver process on a bi-weekly basis and make adjustments as needed.

    In preparation for a continuation of on campus reopening, our teachers, staff and administration are working tirelessly to put finishing touches on a multifaceted program that will allow for hybrid learning- simultaneously serving students from home and the classroom. This will ensure that every family has a choice, and families that wish to continue distance learning will have that option. More information on this will be shared soon.

    As we enter flu season, we encourage families to get the flu vaccine ASAP and be diligent in monitoring symptoms. HERE is an article that explains how to best identify flu versus COVID-19 symptoms. This will be helpful in the weeks/months to come, as we work to prevent a “twindemic.” If we want the option to keep our campus open, we all need to do our part. Please continue to wear masks, social distance and wash hands frequently. This is essential to slow the spread of COVID-19, the flu and/or other viruses.

    Thank you again for your steadfast patience and partnership. We will keep you updated as the road to on campus learning becomes more clear. 
     
    Shabbat Shalom,
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 10/01/2020 - Waiver Update

    Dear VBSDS Families,

    We hope that our K-2 families enjoyed Back to School night last night, and we look forward to “seeing” our 3-6 grade families this evening via Zoom!

    As we head into Shabbat and Sukkot, I wanted to share an LA County elementary school campus reopening update. Yesterday, LA County Department of Public Health shared that its school waiver program will begin accepting applications for TK-2nd grade on campus instruction in early October. You can read the full County update HERE

    Here is the information we have:
    • The exact waiver application opening date was not announced
    • The issuance of waivers will be prioritized for schools with high percentages of students qualified for government subsidized meals (which does not apply to VBSDS)
    • To start, 30 applications will be approved per week and unclaimed waivers for any given week are to be redistributed to other schools that have applied 
    • The county metrics (statistics and data on COVID-19) continue to change daily, and are tied to the re-opening process, we all need to continue to reduce potential spread of the virus
    • The county board will review this process on a bi-weekly basis and make adjustments as needed
    While we are uncertain of when VBSDS in particular may be given the opportunity to apply for a waiver, when the time comes, we will be ready! Led by our VBS Pandemic Response Team, our safety procedures and protocols are in place. In addition, our teachers, staff and administration are working tirelessly to put finishing touches on a multifaceted program that will allow for hybrid learning- simultaneously serving students from home and the classroom. As the timeline for the waiver application process for our community becomes more clear, we will share further information about next steps and the implementation of the option to continue remotely or return to campus.
    While things are ever-changing, VBSDS continues to be committed to transparency and clear communication. Thank you again for your steadfast patience and partnership, as we take these steps together, one by one. An early Shabbat Shalom, and wishing you a meaningful Sukkot- Chag Sameach.
     
    Warmly,
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 09/25/2020 - Late September COVID Update

    Dear VBSDS Families,

    Shanah Tovah to one and all! As we enter a new year and pause to reflect on 5780, I want to take a moment to connect and provide you with reassurance that your VBSDS community is here for you in partnership in 5781 and beyond.

    We all understand that this academic year will continue to look quite different. While continuously optimistic, we are also realistic and know that the year may include several shifts, recalibrations, starts and stops. We are living through an international pandemic and we are all learning and growing together! United in partnership, I know that we will continue to make the school year meaningful, enriching and a safe space for our students and families to explore, learn and grow. 

    Led by our VBS Pandemic Response Team, we continue to diligently monitor state and county community health updates. COVID-19 case numbers remain on the decline in LA County and we hope that this trend continues and our local government deems it safe for an option for students to return to campus soon. HERE is a recent, detailed Q&A from the County about the school reopening process. While the timeline for the launch of a potential on campus option for grades 1-6 is still unknown, we are working tirelessly behind the scenes to develop a multifaceted program that will allow for hybrid learning- simultaneously serving students learning from home and from the classroom. This includes an investment in essential technology like cameras, which will provide students learning from home with the most optimal, inclusive experience possible. This preparation means using our weekly faculty meetings to hone in on cutting edge remote instruction pedagogy and how to use the technology to most enhance student learning. We call these meetings “Wired Wednesdays” and they are led by Nathaniel Hanna, VBSDS' Director of Academic Technology, with support from VBS/VBSDS' Director of IT & Media, Morris Hunter.

    We acknowledge that at any given time not all families with students learning from home will have opted into a virtual program. For example, a family exposed to COVID-19 may need to quarantine and learn virtually for a minimum of two weeks. This is why it is of utmost importance for all families to be familiar with and focused on the high caliber of technology and online accessibility that we plan to provide. As the timeline for the launch of this new technology becomes more clear, we will share more about our virtual, hybrid program and its implementation, as well as the safety measures that will be in place for all on campus learners. We are hopeful that the number of cases in Los Angeles (and everywhere) will continue to decrease and that the time for this will be sooner rather than later! I look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks to come.

    In the interim, and as we have shared all summer long, we would like to emphasize the part we all play in keeping our community healthy and safe. Please continue to avoid gatherings with people outside of your household, wash hands frequently and wear a face covering when you leave your home. 

    Thank you again for your continued patience and partnership in a time that is anything but predictable. It is the support of our families that keeps our teachers, staff and volunteers inspired and renewed each and every day. Again, Shanah Tovah and may we all be sealed in the book of blessing and life.

    Warmly,
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 08/30/2020 - Important Parent Update

    Dear VBSDS Community:

    In preparation for school opening on campus, and as an extra precautionary measure, we required COVID-19 testing for all staff and teachers in both the Day School and ECC. Late last night we received notification that an ECC staff member tested positive for COVID-19. We understand this may cause concern, and we want to reassure you that the purpose of baseline testing was to prevent cases from spreading. While we must protect the privacy of the person involved, we believe it best to communicate transparently with you. The staff member is asymptomatic and feeling fine. The ECC administration has been in touch to provide care and support. We have designed our frequent employee testing procedures to be more often than recommended by the county and state. 

    WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?
    There is nothing more important to us than the safety and health of our students, our staff and their families. We understand that living in the time of COVID-19 is full of uncertainty. Our preparation and policies for a variety of scenarios have allowed us to swiftly address the situation. 
     
    We have taken the following steps:
    • Day School will begin tomorrow, August 31, both virtually for all grades and on campus for some Kindergarten families, and the ECC will open on Wednesday, September 9 as planned
    • The staff member is complying with the LA County Department of Public Health’s protocols regarding isolation, quarantine and contact tracing
    • We worked with the staff member to determine potential close contacts, and have already notified those people
    • We are cleaning and sanitizing the facility per regulations and protocols
    • We mobilized our COVID-19 Compliance Task Force and have notified the LA County Department of Public Health to review our Exposure Management Plan with them
    • We will continue to test our staff on rotation every other week
    COVID-19 TRANSMISSION
    COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person contact and through the exchange of respiratory droplets. Even though case numbers continue to decline in LA County, we must continue to be vigilant. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you or any member of your family exhibit these symptoms, please contact your medical provider for advice immediately. Symptoms usually appear 2-14 days after exposure. 

    COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person contact and through the exchange of respiratory droplets. Even though case numbers continue to decline in LA County, we must continue to be vigilant. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you or any member of your family exhibit these symptoms, please contact your medical provider for advice immediately. Symptoms usually appear 2-14 days after exposure. 

    Please remember that a “close contact” includes: a household member, intimate contact, or caregiver of a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case; being within 6 feet of the confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case for more than 15 minutes, even if wearing a non-medical face covering.

    HELP PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19
    The CDC and LA County Public Health recommend the following best practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds 
    • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available 
    • Avoid close contact with those who are sick 
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve
    • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose 
    • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects 
    • Stay at home when you are sick
    • Practice social distancing, leaving at least six feet between you and other people 
    • Wear a cloth mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain

    Our greatest priority is the safety of our students, staff and community members. 

    We are grateful for the opportunity to educate your children and we are committed to providing you with the most up-to-date and clear information. We are always here to answer any questions.

    Warmly,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School, VBSDS

    Abby Andiman Mars
    VBS ECC Director

    Matthew Weintraub
    VBS Executive Director
  • 08/10/2020 - Celebrating our Camps

    Dear VBSDS Community,

    I hope that your week is off to a great start!

    As many of you know, last Friday concluded our four week Camp Kef On Campus. We were delighted to provide families with an opportunity for their children to connect in person and experience a sense of summer “normalcy” and routine during a time that is anything but normal!

    I am proud to report that Camp ran very smoothly with students social-distancing, wearing face coverings, washing hands many times per day and following the same protocols we will have in place when students return to campus for learning. I was so impressed by our students, especially our youngest campers, who followed the rules set in place with diligence and grace. It was amazing to see campers in action, and both parents and students have expressed their gratitude. We are also proud to share that a surprise in-person inspection by the Los Angeles County Department of Health yielded a glowing report. Camp Kef met and surpassed all health and safety requirements set forth by the County. We truly knocked it out of the park! A special “thank you” to our incredible Camp Kef On Campus team, led by Rabbi Avi Taff and Art Specialist Lisa Suman, who paved the way for such a successful experience, and to Orit Rappaport, Operations and Facilities Manager and VBS’ Pandemic Response Coordinator, whose insight and assistance were invaluable.

    In addition to Camp Kef On Campus, we also held a six week virtual Camp Kef-Connected. Over 115 campers had a well-rounded, enriching and FUN experience cooking, coding, reading, singing, crafting, baking challah and more! This virtual program would not have been possible without our innovative Camp Kef-Connected leadership team (also led by Rabbi Avi Taff), as well as guest instructors.

    Thank you to the VBSDS Board of Trustees and the many generous donors (listed below) who made the vision for this camp a reality. Due to overwhelming community support, we were able to offer the virtual camp experience free of charge to all VBS families. The sessions were thoughtful, creative and helped children maintain a sense of connection to their friends and to VBSDS throughout the summer.

    During a challenging time, it is imperative that we all take a moment to celebrate these victories and points of connection. I am proud to be part of this community and am looking forward to building on the successes of our camps as we move into the school year. 

    Warmly,
    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 08/04/2020 - Fall 2020 Updates

  • 07/31/2020 - Important Parent Update

    Dear VBSDS Community,

    I hope you are doing well and enjoying these final weeks of summer!  We remain committed to keeping our families up-to-date on our plans for Fall 2020. 

    At our school, we have families responding to this crisis in a diverse fashion. Our approach to the 2020-2021 school year, like our approach to Jewish practice and sharing community, is a pluralist response. For some families, the choice to stay home and engage in our robust Virtual VBSDS program is the only model that will meet their needs. For some families, if the choice is available to be on campus for learning, that option will be essential. No matter where your family falls, we will be offering a high quality educational experience for the children of VBSDS. Regardless of the individual family choice, our School community will respect and honor the values of each family. We are also devoted to making sure that when we return to campus, as we did for Camp Kef this month, that our employees will work in an environment that is as safe as possible. This past week, we commemorated the destruction of the Temple through the holiday of Tisha B’Av. The Rabbis teach us that one of the reasons for the destruction was the “senseless hatred,” sinat chinam, between Jew and Jew. As this virus continues to impact all of us, we must stand for equanimity, we must stand for justice, and above all we must continue to treat each other with kindness.  

    This entire pandemic has been an exercise in learning what we have control over and what we do not. At this moment, through our partnership with the ECC, we are able to offer kindergarten families the choice to either learn through Virtual VBSDS or to engage in on campus learning. Until there is further movement within state leadership and the LA County Department of Public Health on the process of a safe return to campus, our students in grades 1-6 will participate in a robust, immersive and updated, Virtual VBSDS program.

    As we shared with you last week, as part of the guidelines set forth for the safe reopening for schools, Governor Newsom announced a waiver (or a way) to open on campus as long as two steps are followed. The first is to present an application with elements that have not yet been announced to us in entirety. As soon as the application is available, we will share this with our School community. While there has been a lot of media attention about the waiver, the final word on what the application process will look like and how the application will be submitted has not yet been made public. The second step for safe reopening is especially important. We all need to do our part to reduce the transmission of the virus. Covering our faces, washing hands and staying physically distant from others outside of our households will be an essential step toward not only public safety and the greater good, but also to our reopening on campus. In consultation with the VBSDS Board of Trustees, our community will apply for this waiver in order to prepare us for a safe reopening and to give our families a choice. We have been working closely with the County in preparation for this process so that once the application goes live, we can complete it quickly.

    This LA County Department of Public Health waiver application will be available to all public and private LA County elementary schools. We do know that approval of the waiver is based on the strength of health and safety protocols in place at schools, as well as local health data. This means that even if we obtain the waiver, we may not be able to open until the local epidemiological data meets the safety criteria of the state, county and the CDC. This is a metrics driven process, informed and supported by local epidemiological data. Ultimately, schools will not be able to open unless science supports the conclusion that it is safe to do so. Yesterday, VBS sent an email to the entire VBS community urging members to participate in a weekly LA County texting program. The program was created to collect accurate, local data about the spread of COVID-19 in communities across Los Angeles. The more people participate, the more accurate the numbers will be. This data is what will help inform whether or not VBSDS can provide on-campus learning options this fall.

    The waiver process, like so much of this pandemic, is uncharted territory. We are unsure of the turnaround time, but are doing everything we can to have on-campus learning available as a choice this fall. As a school rooted in social emotional learning, we believe it is developmentally important to provide a safe on campus option so that our students have the most impactful experience possible. We are making plans to implement COVID-19 testing for all VBS schools prior to the start of the semester and our hope is to make this available with regularity moving forward.

    Many of you have heard about local elementary schools that are transforming their programs into “day camps” in order to run year round and remain open on campus. We have been advised that applying to become a day camp would risk our valued accreditation through the California Association of Independent schools, which is a constant source of integrity and support to our school and leadership. Whether virtually or on campus, our school will offer a robust, social emotional based curriculum that will be rigorous while being mindful of the soul of each student.

    Our in-person Camp Kef just finished three healthy weeks of programming and has run remarkably well with students wearing face coverings, washing hands MANY times per day, physically distancing and following the same protocols we will have in place for the school year. We are proud to announce that a surprise visit from the Los Angeles County Department of Health yielded a glowing report and our camp met and surpassed all health and safety requirements set forth by the County.

    As we head into Shabbat, I seek some peace from all of this. Peace is different than certainty. We will continue to update you on this ever-evolving situation and know that I am here to answer any questions you may have. In the interim, please remember that we all must do our part to slow the spread of the virus. Wear a face covering, physically distance from those outside of your household, and wash your hands frequently.  There is great individual and communal power in these three actions. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we navigate this new territory together as one community.

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 07/22/2020 - Important Update: Kindergarten

    Dear VBSDS Community,

    I hope you are doing well and enjoying these final weeks of summer!  We remain committed to keeping our families up-to-date on our plans for Fall 2020. 

    At our school, we have families responding to this crisis in a diverse fashion. Our approach to the 2020-2021 school year, like our approach to Jewish practice and sharing community, is a pluralist response. For some families, the choice to stay home and engage in our robust Virtual VBSDS program is the only model that will meet their needs. For some families, if the choice is available to be on campus for learning, that option will be essential. No matter where your family falls, we will be offering a high quality educational experience for the children of VBSDS. Regardless of the individual family choice, our School community will respect and honor the values of each family. We are also devoted to making sure that when we return to campus, as we did for Camp Kef this month, that our employees will work in an environment that is as safe as possible. This past week, we commemorated the destruction of the Temple through the holiday of Tisha B’Av. The Rabbis teach us that one of the reasons for the destruction was the “senseless hatred,” sinat chinam, between Jew and Jew. As this virus continues to impact all of us, we must stand for equanimity, we must stand for justice, and above all we must continue to treat each other with kindness.  

    This entire pandemic has been an exercise in learning what we have control over and what we do not. At this moment, through our partnership with the ECC, we are able to offer kindergarten families the choice to either learn through Virtual VBSDS or to engage in on campus learning. Until there is further movement within state leadership and the LA County Department of Public Health on the process of a safe return to campus, our students in grades 1-6 will participate in a robust, immersive and updated, Virtual VBSDS program.

    As we shared with you last week, as part of the guidelines set forth for the safe reopening for schools, Governor Newsom announced a waiver (or a way) to open on campus as long as two steps are followed. The first is to present an application with elements that have not yet been announced to us in entirety. As soon as the application is available, we will share this with our School community. While there has been a lot of media attention about the waiver, the final word on what the application process will look like and how the application will be submitted has not yet been made public. The second step for safe reopening is especially important. We all need to do our part to reduce the transmission of the virus. Covering our faces, washing hands and staying physically distant from others outside of our households will be an essential step toward not only public safety and the greater good, but also to our reopening on campus. In consultation with the VBSDS Board of Trustees, our community will apply for this waiver in order to prepare us for a safe reopening and to give our families a choice. We have been working closely with the County in preparation for this process so that once the application goes live, we can complete it quickly.

    This LA County Department of Public Health waiver application will be available to all public and private LA County elementary schools. We do know that approval of the waiver is based on the strength of health and safety protocols in place at schools, as well as local health data. This means that even if we obtain the waiver, we may not be able to open until the local epidemiological data meets the safety criteria of the state, county and the CDC. This is a metrics driven process, informed and supported by local epidemiological data. Ultimately, schools will not be able to open unless science supports the conclusion that it is safe to do so. Yesterday, VBS sent an email to the entire VBS community urging members to participate in a weekly LA County texting program. The program was created to collect accurate, local data about the spread of COVID-19 in communities across Los Angeles. The more people participate, the more accurate the numbers will be. This data is what will help inform whether or not VBSDS can provide on-campus learning options this fall.

    The waiver process, like so much of this pandemic, is uncharted territory. We are unsure of the turnaround time, but are doing everything we can to have on-campus learning available as a choice this fall. As a school rooted in social emotional learning, we believe it is developmentally important to provide a safe on campus option so that our students have the most impactful experience possible. We are making plans to implement COVID-19 testing for all VBS schools prior to the start of the semester and our hope is to make this available with regularity moving forward.

    Many of you have heard about local elementary schools that are transforming their programs into “day camps” in order to run year round and remain open on campus. We have been advised that applying to become a day camp would risk our valued accreditation through the California Association of Independent schools, which is a constant source of integrity and support to our school and leadership. Whether virtually or on campus, our school will offer a robust, social emotional based curriculum that will be rigorous while being mindful of the soul of each student.

    Our in-person Camp Kef just finished three healthy weeks of programming and has run remarkably well with students wearing face coverings, washing hands MANY times per day, physically distancing and following the same protocols we will have in place for the school year. We are proud to announce that a surprise visit from the Los Angeles County Department of Health yielded a glowing report and our camp met and surpassed all health and safety requirements set forth by the County.

    As we head into Shabbat, I seek some peace from all of this. Peace is different than certainty. We will continue to update you on this ever-evolving situation and know that I am here to answer any questions you may have. In the interim, please remember that we all must do our part to slow the spread of the virus. Wear a face covering, physically distance from those outside of your household, and wash your hands frequently.  There is great individual and communal power in these three actions. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we navigate this new territory together as one community.

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School
  • 07/01/2020 - Response to Newsom's Announcement

    Dear VBS Day School Families,

    As this pandemic continues, we are working so hard to ensure a quality educational and community experience for our families. We realize that Governor Newsom’s message today about schools, both public and private, has raised questions and we are working to clarify his message and what it means for us. 
     
    We will be in touch soon with more information, but wanted to reach out because we know many of you have concerns. 
     
    In the event that the school year must begin with Virtual VBSDS, we are prepared to transition to school on campus at a moment's notice.

    We also want to share a few things that we know for sure:
    • Our core business is relationships, not only education, and our community is well-positioned to continue to offer you and your family the support necessary to get through this pandemic
    • Once LA County is off the “county watch list”, VBSDS will pivot from virtual learning to safe on campus instruction
    • We are committed to further professional development for our teachers to enhance our Virtual VBSDS learning platform
    • We have practiced our daily protocols at Camp Kef on campus and we have been preparing to open for fall. We have purchased sanitizing equipment, furniture and other necessary items to practice the three science based principles of reducing the spread of COVID-19:
      • Physical Distancing
      • Mask Wearing
      • Hand Washing

    • We are also preparing our classrooms with a Zoom-in option, in order to accommodate families for whom a return to campus may not feel safe
    We also wanted to share that this week we successfully opened Camp Kef on the VBS campus. Our safety protocols, communications and infrastructure have been running smoothly and kids and staff are so happy to be back together...six feet apart! 
     
    As the sun sets tonight for Shabbat, the most important commitment we need to make is to each other and to our children. Please follow the three protocols above to reduce the spread of this terrible virus. When you can stay home, please stay home. When you must go out, please wear a mask, wash your hands and keep a physical distance from others not in your household. We truly believe that if we commit to these practices we will be able to save lives. The sooner we practice together, the sooner we can resume in person instruction. It is our shared responsibility as a community.

    We really miss seeing all of you in person and we have so much momentum to start our 2020-2021 school year. In the meantime, stay safe, and we will reach out soon.
     
    Warmly,

    Rabbi Deborah Schuldenfrei
    Head of School 

Our Community Brit

Safety Protocols

List of 5 items.

  • Athletics

    • All student activities will be guided by local health official requirements and governing bodies
    • We are designing experiences for both in-person and virtual modalities
    • Our creative coaches are already planning for outdoor physically distant, engaging and safe activities for our students
  • Campus Environment

    • Updated furniture has been ordered to best meet the needs of students while keeping physical distance
    • Signage for physically distanced movement are placed throughout campus and will be observed
    • Staggered drop-off and pick-up times will be part of the school schedule
    • Access to campus will be limited to faculty, staff, and students.  At this time, parents and visitors will access campus remotely or visit only with special permission.  Our hope is that as restrictions ease, we will be able to welcome everyone back.
    • Large events will remain online, including Kabbalat Shabbat, celebrations, Parent Organization meetings, and admission events.
  • Health and Safety

    • Masks will be required for everyone: faculty, staff and students
    • Each day, all people entering campus will have their temperature checked and answer health screening questions
    • Handwashing will be scheduled and frequent
    • Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes will be available in each classroom and around campus
    • Each classroom will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected each evening with the additional use of a new Clorox Total 360 disinfectant spray system
    • High-touch surfaces and bathrooms will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day
    • Students will bring lunch or have the option to purchase lunches through LA|Kosher (further details to come)
    • No-touch sinks, soap dispensers and hand dryers in restrooms have already been installed
  • Health and Wellness

    • Our full time school nurse, Marcie Spetner, R.N. will continue to inform our protocols and will continue to work with students during the school day
    • Our nurse’s office is being renovated to include an isolation room as recommended by the CDC
    • Our Director of Student Support Services will be available on campus as well as virtually
    • Our partnership with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (RULER) will continue to support the social-emotional well-being of all students. 
    • Faculty and staff will continue to meet weekly to address morale and well-being and celebrate meaningful moments
  • Kehillot

    • To maintain physical distancing, students will be grouped into grade-level learning communities, Kehillot, of 12-16 students and will physically remain with this group of classmates for all school activities.
    • When creating learning communities, we will make every effort to support students’ academic, social, and emotional needs. In some cases, there may be three Kehillot per grade level, and we are staffing accordingly. 
    Classes may at times be taught in outdoor spaces.